Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Back to one identity

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Originally uploaded by Nic Name.
The country of my residence, The Netherlands, is turning into a scary place. The country known as the centre of tolerance on the continent has taken a radical shift to the other direction in only a couple of years. The person in the focus is once again – although this time as a victim – the Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Or Dutch, yes, that is the issue. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the Somali-turned-Dutch politician who worked with the murdered Theo van Gogh on the film Submission and who has been living undercover and with police protection. During the last years she has been one of the most visible Europeans speaking her mind in favour of tougher integration policies.

Last week Ayaan Hirsi Ali said publicly in an interview again that she lied about her background and name when she came to the Netherlands. Minister of Integration Rita Verdonk - from the same party - told on Monday that the investigation that she did in a couple of days showed that Hirsi Ali is not a Dutch and has never been one. She is therefore requested to leave the country. Hirsi Ali announced yesterday that she would be leaving the Dutch Parliament and would start working for an American think tank.

The issue is the biggest political debate currently in the Netherlands. Members of the parliament are attacking the government and especially Minister Verdonk for the issue and this could bring the government down. One of the parties in the cabinet coalition is considering leaving the cabinet for this. The main question in the parliament debate has been why Minister Verdonk is acting on the issue now when Hirsi Ali confessed the lie already years ago. A parliamentary group leader of Verdonk’s own party VVD said today that if the procedure would go like the one week investigation on Hirsi Ali now, it would be very difficult to explain the cues in the immigration procedures.

I am really scared. Even if I would not agree with Hirsi Ali in all the things she is saying, I find Verdonk's actions inhumane and cruel.

The country that took pride for tolerance and being able to manage diversity is shifting its policy to follow the lines favoured by most countries: identity politics. I find it irresponsible that a politician who wishes to get the leading position on their election list next year (Verdonk) decides to gain points by playing with people’s destinies and lives. Verdonk is the same politician who suggested a national code which would pressure immigrants to speak only Dutch in public.

But the worst things in the current situation are the following:
1. All the other politicians find it all too easy to point the finger at Verdonk. She is still a minister appointed by the Queen and a member of a governing party.
2. As my flatmate pointed out, most Dutch people accept this. They think that Verdonk is doing a good job in being tough. A poll just published in the TV news stated that 43 % of the Dutch think it was right to take away her citizenship because she lied.

I have my TV on. The most popular Dutch soap opera started now. It is called Goede tijden, slechte tijden (Good times, bad times). Well, it is easy to know which one we’re in now.

1 comment:

Tommi Laitio said...

Verdonk is currently speaking in the Dutch parliament (and on TV). She is saying that the policy is clear: if someone has lied, the citizenship is invalid and the person has never been Dutch. She is saying that the investigation was very short because she confessed openly on television that she has lied. The issue is that Hirsi Ali had lied her date of birth, name and had hidden the fact that she stayed in Kenya before coming to the Netherlands.

Now the leader of the Green Party is asking the Minister - and rightly so - why the Minister is now acting based on an television interview and why she did not act on the issue when Hirsi Ali was working in the parliament for years for Verdonk's party.

This case with a celebrity now shows to the masses the immense cruel nature of European immigration policy.